View Full Version : atonality

08-20-2005, 11:23 AM
Ok, so I've been a bit confused about this for a while... I've been wondering what exactly is the difference btwn. tonal & atonal music... and well basically, what is atonal music? I hear modern music described as atonal all the time... but am ignorant as to what makes it atonal...

08-20-2005, 12:20 PM

Or in plain english. Atonal music has no tonal center. It can be very dissonant to the ear because it is not focused within any particular key signature at any point.

Try it yourself:
Go over to a piano and improvise by landing on a series of random notes. Now you are making atonal music! Might not be good- but you're doin it!!

08-20-2005, 01:31 PM
ok, thanks... that clears stuff up... very helpful website too...

08-21-2005, 12:23 AM
actually, I'm curious... is there any music that utilizes both styles in one piece?

Michael Troy
08-23-2005, 08:54 AM
UH...........Yea. Prog.and some jazz that Im aware of. Im not a big fan of the atonal thing but it can offer some really interesting contrasts. When John P. does it though it sounds awesome.

08-23-2005, 09:00 AM
Bartok does it a lot, though there is newer stuff out there like George Crumb, Corigliano, Thomas Ades, Eric Whitacre that experiment with it...Bartok is not really too atonal, his tonal center revolves mostly around the interval of a tritone, but is predominantly without a noticeable tonal center - unlike traditional classical music, but there is a tonal center...stuff like Crumb, Ades...etc is harder to follow because htye really stretch it with microrhythms...etc and use other things as a "center" for their music.

08-23-2005, 09:40 AM
For examples in jazz, check out some of Cecil Taylor's work. He goes from beautifully constructed melodies to fierce atonal passages. The contrast is fantastic.


"Silent Toungues" is breakthrough work!

08-23-2005, 11:51 AM
@mike: I was looking for something slightly more specific, but thx. anyway
@Ael: cool I'm into classical (I play the cello), so I'll get around to checking out bartok
pmar: Thanks, I'll be sure to check him out.